Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grace and Douglas Take China: Prelims

Ok, there is absolutely nothing about this that constitutes my use of the term “Prelims,” but I’ve secretly always wanted to be good enough at a sport to have to use that word regularly, sue me. And technically, these are my “preliminary remarks,” so I’m only a “complete” tool, not a “complete and utter” tool.

I’m going to China.

That is neat.

(Yes, I’m excited, but before you search further for a Proverbs 31 Grace that will use words like “thrilled and absolutely blessed” and “totally over the moon,” remember to whom you are speaking. Please and Thank.)

Naturally, “X and Y Take China” is the first appropriate header I came up with and seeing that it would be socially awkward to choose only one of the five family members with whom I am traveling and plug their name into the second slot to describe who is taking China with me, “Grace and Douglas” will have to suffice. Unless “Grace and Jesus” starts to catch on…

So… China.

I’m thinking it would be appropriate for me to take sixty seconds to list everything I can about China, like that kind of assignment a teacher makes you do to later reveal your gaping lack of knowledge, before beginning a new unit. (Yes, this was only cool in fifth grade, but I AM MY OWN TEACHER, now that I’m out of school; BEAR WITH ME.)

- First known memory of China on record: Heaven ONLY KNOWS why we were digging holes in the ground at recess in first grade, but I remember Adelaide Freeman saying “yeah, let’s keep digging till we reach China! Then we can get all the toys!” and I thought: girl is funny. I should ally myself with this funny chick so I can learn to be funny, too. Also, what a clever first grader, to put it together that if toys bore a “Made in China,” mark, then the country would be FULL of toys. Was it social climbing, for me to befriend another first grader, in an effort to become a funnier human? Maybe. But given that: this was only one of the MANY reasons we became friends in addition to her existence being one of the primary reasons I survived Middle School, I think it's safe to say it wasn't a completely shallow move.

Oh. Also the fact that she's still one of my best friends, to this day:

...But I digress.

- Mulan. Mulan lived in China. I was so intrigued by her ability to swipe her sleeve across her face and wipe off the entirety of half her face’s make-up, when she was looking into her poolside reflection, after the disastrous audition-to-be-a-geisha thing. (I’m kidding about the geisha part – I DO know that’s Japanese.) I also would like the record to show that Disney Princesses like Jasmine and Ariel made me want to be them just because they were generally cool and gorgeous, among other things. While Mulan’s appeal was a little more subtle, I definitely would have gone to war, pretending to be a man, if it meant I got to have the Peanut Gallery that was Mushu and Crickie as my sidekicks.
- The Art of War. That’s Chinese. Taylor Kitsch references it in everyone’s favorite summer Blockbuster Battleship, so it must be good.

We actually read the book together, on-set.
(I'm lying.) 

- I happen to know a wealth of exercises that Chairman Mao made his soldiers do. That is not a joke.
- Apparently the Chinese actually discovered America. No, seriously. Google “Zheng He” if you don’t believe me.
- I had to do a Chinese accent when I played Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie in high school. I met with the Mandarin teacher to practice. Apparently faking a cheesy Chinese accent involves adding “uh” to any word that ends in a consonant(uh).
- The Painted Veil. Loved that movie. Love Edward Norton, in general. It took place in a remote village in rural China.

There. It’s been 60 seconds.

Looks like my work is cut out for me.

And finally, I will close with the very first revelation about Shanghai I came across, in my research:

“Beijing may be more mysterious, but Shanghai offers half-understood, semi-mythical images.”

And I don't even have to cite the source cause I'm not being graded on this. BOOM.